There is a time and a place for being cheap — or not

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…”

— The Book of Ecclesiastes, the Old Testament

These words of wisdom apply well to discussion last Thursday night about the purchase of a new pumper for the Dorr Township Fire Department.

The Township Board eventually approved buying the new unit for well over $500,000, but not before Trustee John Tuinstra, who might be an even bigger cheapskate than I am, asked Fire Chief Gary Fordham if he had shopped around for a used truck in order to save money.

Fordham wasted no time in explaining he had no interest in buying a cheaper, used unit when it came to the safety of local residents and of firefighters under his watch.

Indeed, as Ecclesiates has taught us, there is a time to buy cheaply, to be frugal, but when the subject is human public safety, there also is a time to be most mindful of product quality.

Tuinstra said there are people who live on his block who have never had a new car or truck, and some never will. But that isn’t the issue here.

A fire department deserves to be given the tools it needs to do the work of protecting the people. It certainly is possible that a cheaper used truck would suffice, but basing the purchase only on cost could be jeopardizing the lives of volunteer firefighters and citizens in the township.

On a personal level, I have made many cheap purchases at thrift stores and at groceries such as Aldi, but I am careful to make those kinds of purchases low risk. For example, I am of the opinion that cheap aluminum foil can perform just as well as the high-priced product. And there are other products, such as generic over the counter drugs that contain the same ingredients as the better known offerings. I shop accordingly, perhaps a lot like Tuinstra.

But once again, there is a time to be cheap, and a time to insist on new and quality. And buying a new fire truck, where lives will be at stake, is not the right time to be cutting corners.


  • I have a solution. I have a kiddie wading pool that has a few leaks in it, but some duct tape can fix that. Put it on a flatbed trailer, add a few plastic buckets, fill the pool with water, and that’s all we need, right Mr. Tuinstra? I’m sure that configuration, being inexpensive, will fit the bill.

  • He is clueless about fire pumper trucks. The main pumper needs replaced every 20 years to meet regulations. The advances in the equipment in that time span along with reliability issues are the reason new over used is the only way to go when purchasing.
    I only purchase used vehicles I can pay cash for because I don’t want a monthly payment. But lives are not depending on my car’s arrival at someone’s emergency. Big difference.

  • Frankly, I could careless if my neighbor’s can afford a new car as it is none of my business or anyone else’s for that matter. What does concern me and should concern all of us is that we have the safest equipment for our fire dept. Trust is the biggest problem here-we need to trust our firemen with their judgement in purchasing this truck just as much as we trust them with our lives. We are very thankful to the Dorr Fire Dept for doing such an amazing job of keeping our community safe. Therefore as a community-including you, Mr. Tuinsta, it is our job to provide them the best equipment.
    After all, it is a no brainer-you do not buy a used toothbrush and most certainly-you do not buy a used fire truck.

  • I am thoroughly enjoying the first three comments. If I could past smiley faces on this, I would.
    Mr. Tuinstra must think Fire Trucks are traded in every three years or so like personal automobiles. If you have to buy a used Fire Truck, you better have your own mechanic, wrecker and parts department. I’m sure the $555,000. spread over a period of 25 (even 20) years is a much more prudent investment.

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